Who do you think works harder? You or an Olympic Level Athlete?
Most of you reading this work 8-10 hours a day. Maybe more. Olympians on average: 4.5 hours. And how many times a year do you have to be on your top game. Olympians will have 7, maybe 12 max, competitions a year where there is a lot at stake. Leaders I talk to say 12 times a year? How about 12 times a week! So the answer is YOU! YOU work harder. But I bet you dont feel like you are winning the gold!
I researched this topic last year to prepare for a keynote speech I was giving to an organization going through lots of change. They wanted to teach leaders how to reach their peak performance during challenging times. One of the key messages was about recovery. While Olympians work 4.5 hours a day, the rest of their day is resting and recovery: massages, acupuncture, or ice baths. Or just going about their regular life like eating and lounging. Our bodies can only take so much, before they cant take it. That is why some athletes turn to steroids which lets your muscles work harder and longer.
Jeff Galloway, former Olympic distance runner and longtime running coach, explains the idea in his latest book, The Run-Walk-Run Method. You can run faster and farther if you run, then walk, then run. Yes, walk in between running. For races and even marathons. After working with over 300,000 runners, he has found that when they push too hard for too long, they cant sustain it. But if they walk in between, they go farther and further.
We talk about this extensively in our work with leaders and in our new book, Rapid Retooling: Developing World-Class Organizations in a Rapidly Changing World. (http://tinyurl.com/bed8mqh). In Chapter 5: Energizing the Team, we have many examples of how leaders can get more done with less work. One example is Marc.
Marc was just promoted to CIO and felt under pressure to succeed. He wanted some support to make the transition successful so he asked me to coach him. One day, after listening to him list off all his projects, I said, Marc. When do have time for yourself? Well I dont. Yes that is a problem. Of course! How can he have the energy for his leadership role if he never re-energizes? How he can motivate his team if he is exhausted! We talked through how he would work with his employee Sue, so she could take over more. And he can do more, by working less.
I emailed a friend Chris Loftus, who competes at the Age Group level in Triathletes, about this topic and he replied: The trick is to go hard on the hard days and easy on the easy days. Most people go too hard on the easy days and do not have enough juice to go hard on the hard days, You have to know when to push, and push then. But schedule in easy days and use them, so that you have the energy for the next hard day.
An executive team member at a global manufacturing company we work with admits, The theory is easy, but putting it into practice is very challenging, especially when a company is going through challenging times or a lot of growth. You need to try to balance. The higher I am on the ladder the more difficult it has become. And I see this more and more with my colleagues as well. It is important to communicate that you dont want to only work. Once you start to out yourself youll discover that this is very much accepted. Nobody can work around the clock. Quality will go down, mistakes will happen, misunderstanding and frustration will be generated. It can be the beginning of a vicious cycle.
She continued, Warning signs are people becoming edgy, tight, and tense. This behavior means they probably need time away from the office. Dont create a culture in which employees are afraid to speak openly about the importance of taking time off.
Look at your calendar. Where is the YOU time. If you cant find it, then you cant be there for them. Youll never have your team reach their peak performance level because you are not reaching your peak performance level.
For most of us, it is hard to accept that we have to learn to go slower before we can go faster. Ancient Greeks knew that it takes a healthy body to have a healthy mind. Rapidity and alertness of mind requires a healthy person, else rapidity and alertness can be quickly lost. Come to think of it, I have a lot on my plate. I am going to tell Antoine, my business partner, Im taking the rest of the day off!
Originally published on April 25, 2013 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau